EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?
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EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review – A Loadshedding Solution?

The EcoFlow PowerStream is a new product in South Africa that aims to deliver a versatile DIY solar experience for users. Essentially speaking, the EcoFlow PowerStream is purchased in a so-called “kit” due to how the product is made. The inverter itself is capped at 800W which means you can’t go and add 1000W of solar panels to the setup. So EcoFlow makes the experience easier for you by bundling the PowerStream in a purchase with two 400W rigid solar panels.

Watch The EcoFlow PowerStream Review Below

The PowerStream functions in two ways. When connected to the solar panels, the power it absorbs can be stored in a supported EcoFlow battery unit such as the Delta 2 and you can use this battery when the power cuts. You can also send the power directly into your house. I know that sounds like wizardry but it is actually a thing.

When I originally started the content for this setup, I wasn’t exactly comfortable with the idea that power coming from the sun would go into my house which already had power itself. If you think about it, what happens when you connect power to power – nothing good right (cue the electro scene)? EcoFlow then told me the PowerStream is kind of like a Grid Tie Inverter

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

This gets a little technical so bear with me. A Grid-Tie Inverter, for simple minds like myself, feeds various DC solar power into an existing powered grid. This inverter makes sure to convert the incoming power to the same frequency and voltage as the grid but at the same time, increases the voltage on both sides of the polarity.

As a result, this extra power helps feed into your home and contributes to whatever electricity you’re using. The extra voltage is pushed to your appliance first with the grid contributing as a secondary supply. Homes were never built for this sort of system but EcoFlow and various other brands with grid-tie inverters are confident it doesn’t have many risks. All you need to make sure is that the tie-in is plugged directly into the wall and not through an extension cord.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

It is important to note that this EcoFlow PowerStream isn’t intended to be a backup solution which automatically kicks in when loadshedding starts. Instead, it is meant to live alongside your current setup, contribute power to your house and essentially, save you money. However, you can easily adapt this to a backup solution if you have the correct equipment. More on that later.

EcoFlow wants you to know how approachable this setup is for all users. The brand sells the PowerStream with the option of Balcony Mounts and what they call “Super Flat” cables. I didn’t use these items in this setup because I don’t have a balcony but I want to show you how they work anyway.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

The Balcony mounts are handy metal frames that can be installed onto the rigid solar panels and mounted to the side of your balcony. The mounts are easy to install. They are screwed into the existing holes on the panels and feel incredibly premium. Once the back brackets are done, you then attach two clips onto each panel which act as hooks for the balcony. This makes it easy to hang the panels over the sides.

This installation type is then meant to be backed up by these impressively flat “Super Flat” cables. They are your traditional MC4 cables but can be fed through windows and even under sliding doors. You can even close the window and door with the cable being fed through. They are quite nifty.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution

While I didn’t use these, I do respect how EcoFlow is trying to make this as DIY as possible. If I were in an apartment with a balcony, all of this would have been incredibly easy. I would mount the panels to the side and run the cables through a window. Honestly, it takes the chore out of solar and anyone could really go this route.

The route I had to go, however, wasn’t so easy. That’s only because I had to put the panels on the roof. I took these two large 400W panels and mounted them onto my roof. I then purchased 100m of 4mm solar cable and learnt how to attach MC4 connectors by crimping them onto each end. I ran the cable through the roof and through an airbrick before attaching more connectors.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

The PowerStream unit itself is quite a marvel of technology. It comes in some fancy packaging that is way too glamorous to be an inverter but EcoFlow usually delivers this across all its products. The box includes the units itself, the solar cable splitter and the power cable which goes into your grid.

There’s also a wall mount and heat protection cover which you can use because this little machine gets quite hot. You can also place the PowerStream on the top of your Delta if you can’t or don’t want to drill it into the wall.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

The PowerStream unit includes four black plastic points which jutts out the back of the device. The first is the AC slot. This is where the cable goes from the unit into your wall. Next to that is the Delta battery slot. This is where the battery cable goes from the unit into your Delta. This does not come in the box. I repeat – it does not come in the box.

This kind of annoyed me, to be honest. EcoFlow markets this unit with the Delta solution and they don’t include the cable in the box. You also won’t have this cable. It isn’t the same as the battery cable from the Smart Battery unit. It is a standalone cable that costs R500. So if you plan on connecting this to your Delta for charging, you’ll need to buy this.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

Next to that slot is the solar charging slot. This cable plugs in and splits into four MC4 connectors. Two male and two female. The solar panels are plugged in here. Lastly, the last little black knob isn’t a connector. It is the Wi-Fi antenna. EcoFlow didn’t include it in the unit due to the device’s IP-67 rating and full-metal design. It would block the signal.

I think the PowerStream is a cool-looking device. It looks like a little Mac Mini and if anything, looks like a stylish piece of tech in your home. It beats these oversized inverters you find. Granted, it is only 800W but it looks the part.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

After getting the cables made and connecting everything together, the PowerStream was good to go. The EcoFlow app automatically detected the unit and I paired it with my WiFi. I did a few updates and the app was ready. The pairing process was incredibly smooth – I didn’t expect less from EcoFlow.

Two options are important when using the PowerStream. The unit lets you decide between a “Prioritize power supply” mode and a Prioritize power storage” mode. The first mode is what you’ll use if you don’t have a Delta battery. It simply takes power from the panels and feeds it into your home contributing to your daily power usage.

The second, on the other hand, takes that power and charges your Delta battery first. After it is charged, the power is then sent to your grid. So this is a great way to keep your Delta battery topped up. You’ll use this mode if you want to use the Delta at night to power your appliances and charge it during the day.  In my case, I would keep the Delta 2 charged at all times so it is ready for when the power goes down.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

Here’s the catch, however, if you have the Prioritize power supply enabled with your Delta 2 connected, the PowerStream would take charge from the battery and contribute it to your home through the PowerStream’s AC port. The solar energy won’t be used to charge the battery while this is happening. If you unplug the AC port, the solar input then gets cut off again, not charging the battery either.

EcoFlow then lets you schedule automation to automatically switch between the two options. These options can also be scheduled. So you can set up the system to swap and change between the two. That way, in the morning it would charge the battery and you can set up a task so that at say 6 PM, it will switch over and consume the Delta battery and put that energy into your house.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

But if you want to “live off the grid” at night or need it when loadshedding kicks in, you’ll need to take that Delta 2 and plug it into your specific appliances when the time comes. It might just be easier to leave the Delta plugged in somewhere else and not attached to the PowerStream in this case. While it can be used on the system, it functions as an extra source to feed into your home rather than as a direct energy backup.

I tested this. I left a TV plugged into the Delta 2 which was fed into the PowerStream. On Prioritize power supply mode, the solar power and Delta battery fed the PowerStream’s AC output to 800W or the max set in the app. Anything plugged into the Delta 2’s AC power was then also taken from the battery. The battery wasn’t being charged by the solar input at all.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

On the Prioritize power storage mode in the same set-up, the solar input went to charging the Delta 2 battery. The devices plugged into the Delta 2 would then draw power from the battery at the same time. When the battery was fully charged, however, it would cut off the solar charging and that power would then go into the home grid instead of the battery.

You can also set the Charge/Discharge Limit on the app so when the battery is feeding your home, you can make it stop at say 50%. This is helpful in case you have a much larger Delta like the Max that might not charge fully during the day.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

The amount of power the battery sends to your house can also be changed up to 800W. So if you only want the Delta to send 200W, it is possible. That way, the battery won’t die before the morning. This depends on your battery size.

Keep in mind that while you can set the battery power consumption on the app, you can’t target what uses that power. So there’s no way to say “Only power this room” and essentially use this kit as a backup for only a portion of your house.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

That’s where an additional Delta would come in. You can simply plug another Delta into your home somewhere and use that as a backup. That way, it will kick in when loadshedding strikes. That Delta will be charged through the grid and in part, with the PowerStream during the day like all your other appliances.

So you can tell this EcoFlow PowerStream is an incredibly versatile system. But of course, the big push here is to save money and it does just that. When you first load the system, you can enter the price per Kw in your region. As the unit works, it will then calculate how much money you’ve saved over time.

The app also gives you a glance at the per-day charge and feeds into your house. It shows a graph when it lowered due to say, cloudy weather, and when it dropped when the sun went down. I kind of became a bit obsessed with checking this all as much as possible.

Screenshot

The two panels also peaked at 646W which is great. It averaged around 400W due to the hazy skies we have in Johannesburg during autumn. Whenever the sun came out I thought to myself “That is going into my house now”. It is a pretty cool idea and the fact this was so hassle-free and didn’t rely on expensive installers is also a big win here.

The app also gave me a decent overview of the daily charge. On full-sun days, seeing the perfect curve was quite satisfying. Keep in mind that this system also just does its own thing so over time, you’re saving some money. It may not be a lot, but the combination of saving money and using this as a solar charging point are great ways to use the product. However, using the Delta as a tie-in to your home while on this system might not be for everyone. For myself, it simply didn’t work. My household uses way too much power and the Delta would deplete within an hour during the day.

EcoFlow PowerStream South African Review - A Loadshedding Solution?

While the system is great, it is limited so don’t expect this to power your entire house. It is only 800W and you’ll only get around 650W at the peak. You’ll also need a battery to truly unlock the potential and make this an “off-the-grid” solution. However, even then, it comes with its own terms and conditions of having to remove the battery backup whenever you need it.

If you’re getting this as a standalone to cut down your power bill, it is an easy product to understand and manage. It could also be a great start to a small form factor off-the-grid solution. Add in a Delta or additional battery backup and this expands beyond its typical cost-saving solution.

EcoFlow PowerStream Review

Summary

The EcoFlow PowerStream is an excellent product for cutting down your electricity bill thanks to its easy DIY approach and compact design. It can be used as a loadshedding alternative but that comes with its own terms and conditions.

Overall
8.5/10
8.5/10
Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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